Shoes of a Man

© Maria Dunn, 1998 SOCAN

“This song was inspired by the life of Michael George Arbuckle (1898-1988), a Glasgow man. Like many of his generation, he fought in WWI. In the thirties and forties, he took part in labour and social justice demonstrations on Glasgow Green, a popular place for both political and social gatherings. He opposed the means test, a degradingly invasive way for authorities to decide how much social assistance poor families would receive.”

I walked as a soldier, they carried me home
Then I walked to the factory, they gave me the dole
So I read ’til my head spinned to know of this world
That I shared with a pretty young girl

I came across the water from County Tyrone
And I took my first steps at the century’s turn
I walked as a schoolboy, no shoes to my name
Learning my pleasure and poverty’s pride my shame

I walked as a soldier, they carried me home
My chest with a bullet and a wallet now torn
Every snapshot was pierced, faces young and serene
Just the friends of a soldier in 1917

It’s the shoes of a man tell a life the way words never can

I walked with my Kate as the twenties roared on
Now here was a woman both canny and strong
A fine crop of children the blessings she bore
And we taught them the riches of even the poor

Yes I walked with the unions to ring in some change
That our labour be valued and ours a fair wage
And I walked with my ballot to vote out the means
And I stood with the people on Glasgow Green

Now I walk as an old man, they carry me home
My mind sometimes faulty, belaboured and slow
But I still tell my stories, songs and my dreams
To those with the patience for old memories

Maria Dunn vocal · Shannon Johnson violin ·
Jeremiah McDade low D whistle · Andy Illig guitar
Solon McDade upright bass · Gary Koliger guitar